Conservative Party Conference – the first day

It’s the first day of the Conservatives Autumn Conference and the conference will start with a tribute to former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher. This is, of course, not the first time the former Prime Minister has been mentioned during the conference season, following Nick Clegg’s ironic echoing of Baroness Thatcher, when, during his conference, the Deputy Prime Minister retold a story of telling the Prime Minister “no, no, no” when confronted with policies to allow workers to be fired without explanation.

The morning session will see the Party Chairman, Grant Shapps, welcome delegates to Manchester and no doubt list the party’s successes in Government. Before the conference starts much of the attention will be on David Cameron’s morning interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr. Cameron will be keen to start the week well and ensure momentum is on his side ahead of his key speech on Wednesday.

The afternoon will see Foreign Secretary William Hague lead a discussion on Britain’s role in the world, which is perhaps fitting given the Government’s recent defeat on military intervention in Syria. This was an unprecedented defeat; no Government has ever before been defeated in a Commons vote on a military intervention in modern times.

Following the defeat, William Hague is clearly left hoping Britain does not – to use the Chancellor’s terms – “turn its back on the world” and will no doubt use his speech to argue this. However, many in the Conservative Party will say Britain’s welfare is better served by keeping well away from military interventions so it will be interesting to see the audience’s reaction to the normally popular Foreign Secretary.

Outside the conference it will be worth seeing if the TUC’s planned rally generates much media interest. It’s been estimated that 30,000 people will attend the march to protest against Government policies.

Gary Jones